Trusting Kids to Make the Right Decision Isn't Always Easy

airplaneI just sent two of my kids off on a plane by themselves — not an easy thing for a mother who worries over whether or not they ate breakfast on any given morning. But I am trusting they will be fine. At least I am working on trusting...

Being a parent is like being a bird, and as such, entails two jobs. The first is making a nest. I'm pretty good at that part. Keeping the offspring safe and warm and feeling nurtured is something that comes fairly naturally to me. I'm happy with the metaphorical gathering of sticks and worms.

The second part is where things get a little rough.


That's where you have to shove them out of the nest. It's how they get to test their little wings and learn to fly. This is the part that scares the crap out of me.

Intellectually, I know that as kids grow up, they need to be able to take risks and make their own mistakes. I'm well aware that I can't protect them from everything, including themselves, no matter how old they are. But in my mother bird gut — I'm terrified. I keep wanting to chirp "Flap harder. Look out for that branch! Don't go too high." Which doesn't actually keep them in the air anyway.

Trust may come easily to real birds. Maybe their brains are so small they can't think of all the bad things that could happen. (They don't know about terrorists or wind-sheer or pilot error.) Or maybe they just know that keeping their fledgling in the nest once it gets big is a bad thing too. At some point, we all need to fly solo.

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